Lawmakers receive answers about crime rates on SEPTA

A public hearing was held on Monday with SEPTA's CEO regarding the recent crime on SEPTA and lawmakers' demand for answers.  

SEPTA's problems with crime and drop in ridership has not gone unnoticed. A group of state senators gathered at SEPTA's headquarters in Center City on Monday to question whether or not the crime and drug abuse that takes place on SEPTA is "destabilizing" its system. 

"Homelessness, drug use, mental illness and just an overall indecency for humankind are destabilizing the sustainability and future of the nation's sixth-largest mass transit system," said Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.

During the hearing, senators were told of SEPTA's struggles to hire more cops. SEPTA's Chief of Police Thomas Nestel said that out of the recent 961 applicants, only 78 showed up for the fitness test and just 12 passed the required reading exam. 


SEPTA's General Manager Leslie Richards says that while the system needs more police officers, it also needs more support in regard to housing and addiction assistance. 

"We need new resources to hire more police officers, more special support to provide more treatment as well as housing assistance," she said. 

In response to the system's push for these resources, SEPTA hired 88 "outreach specialists" to support its 210 member police force. Chief Nestel says their job is to be the "eyes and ears" of SEPTA and its riders. 

During the pandemic, SEPTA says it struggled with a wave of crime on its rail, bus lines, and its stations. The system's CEO says that crime is falling as ridership rises to half a million trips a day, which is half of its pre-pandemic number. 

Last week, SEPTA added more security to its systems, but Chief Nestel says that without more money for its officers, the gains could quickly turn into a loss.

"Our salary is lower than other departments in the region," he said. "We are in negotiations with the FOTP to try to address that problem."

As the questions for SEPTA continue, the chief says that riding SETPA's Broad Street Line is safer than walking down Broad Street.